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June 27, 1986 - Image 38

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1986-06-27

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38 Friday, June 27, 1986



Slander Equals Murder
Rabbi's Counsel States

Special to The Jewish News -

chicest. Carlos Foicili bus,



This week's sidra, is as timely
and as relevant as when it was
first written. It describes the chil-
dren of Israel on their way to the
Promised Land. Moses, their
leader, is burdened with so many
problems: lack of food, disgrun-
tled unhappy individuals. In the
midst of all this turmoil, the
Torah says: "Miriam and Aaron
spoke against Moses."
What a surprising turn of
events! Miriam, who had watched
over her younger brother Moses
when he was a baby, and who
really had saved his life, was now
slandering him. And Aaron, who
is described in Jewish tradition as
Rodef Shalom, as "one who pur-
sued peace" was now also guilty of
slander. Why did they do it?
Modern students of the mind
believe that, Miriam and Aaron
were envious of their young
brother Moses. They felt inferior,
and by tearing him down, they
were building themselves up,
thus inflating their egos.
It really doesn't matter.! The
fact remains that they engaged in
lashon ha--ra — in slander, and
slander is a deliberate attempt to
destroy another human being.
Our ancient sages have a great
deal to say about slander. They
tell us that an evil tongue, is more
deadly than the sharpest sword,
because with the sword, you can
only kill an adversary who is near
at hand. With an evil tongue how-
ever, you can kill someone who is
hundreds of miles away.
There is a story in Jewish liter-
ature of a woman who came to a
rabbi, and confessed that she had
been slandering her neighbor.
Her conscience was bothering her.
What should she do? The rabbi
said to her: "Go to a nearby farm,
buy a chicken, bring it back to me,
and on the way pluck its feath-
ers." The woman did as she was
told. Then the rabbi said to her:
"Now go; and bring back all the
feathers that you scattered." "But
that's impossible," protested the
woman. "The wind has dispersed
the feathers in every direction."
"Ah", said the rabbi, "so it is with
the evil words you spoke. They
were carried in all directions, and
cannot be recalled. Now go and
slander no more."

Did you know that in the He-
brew language, the term for mur-
der is the same as that for slan-
der? It is called shi-fee-chat dahm.
It means: "The spilling of blood."
When someone is murdered, it in-
volves the spilling of blood. When
someone is slandered or
humiliated, it also involves "the
spilling of blood" because the
blood either rushes to the face, or
leaves the face of the victim.
It is interesting to note what
punishment is meted out to
Miriam in the Torah. She was
smitten with leprosy, and God
said to Moses: "Let her be isolated
outside the camp for seven days,
and after that, she shall be
brought in again."
What a marvelous prescription
for those who are afflicted with
this malady of slander! We all
know such people who thrive on
gossip, who revel in carrying

tales. Whether there is truth in
what they say, matters not. Their
goal is to harm, to hurt.
What do you do about such
people? The Torah provides us
with guidance: "let them be iso-
lated outside the campx"
Whenever you encounter such
people make it clear at the outset,
that you do not care to listen. Bear

Shabbat Behalotch.
Numbers S:1-11-16;
Zechariah 2:14-4:7

in mind, that according to Jewish
tradition, those who listen, are as
guilty as those who slander, be-
cause without listeners, the
gossip-monger would have no
Above all, try to understand
that those who slander, are really
sick. Suggest to them that they
need psychiatric help. By giving
them such counsel, you will be
performing a mitzvah. You will
save some human being, from the
sickness of slander.

Knesset Passes
Motions On
South Africa

Jerusalem (JTA) — Eight
agenda motions on South Africa
were approved by the Knesset
last week and passed on to com-
mittee for consideration. All
condemned apartheid, which is
also the government's official
position. But they differed wide-
ly between left and right over
Israel's relations with South
Speaking for the leftist
MAPAM party, Victor Shem-
Tov complained that the
government's reaction to the
worsening racial strife in South
Africa was too equivocal. The
government had strongly con-
demned the state of emergency
declared y the Pretoria govern-
ment to prevent the Black com-
munity from observing the 10th
anniversary of the Soweto riots.
The government also joined the
world-wide protest by closing
the Israel Embassy in Pretoria
for 24 hours.
Deputy Foreign Minister Ron-
ni Milo of Likud, who respond-
ed to the motions for the govern-
ment, said relations between
Israel and South Africa are bas-
ed on the assumption that the
citizens of South Africa must
settle their problems among
themselves. "On the basis of
that assumption, we encourage
communications between all
parts of the population in South
Africa, while at the same time
we strongly demand the im-
mediate and total abolition of all
racist laws," Milo said.

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